The number of students enrolled in California’s public schools plummeted to 6,002,523 students in the 2020-2021 school year from 6,163,001 in the 2019-2020 school year. That’s a decrease of 2.6%.
Public school officials expressed concern at the steep drop, but optimism that the numbers could rebound when schools fully reopen.
“While there are many reasons to stay optimistic that enrollment will rebound as conditions improve, allowing more schools to safely return to in-person instruction, we also must help schools identify opportunities to engage with families who either sought new options for their students during the pandemic or need additional resources and support to connect with school and succeed,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said in a press release.
Many schools across the country turned to remote learning last year, closing schools to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, some schools have been slow to reopen, and others have pivoted to hybrid models. Around half of elementary schools were open for full in-person learning as of last month, according to the Associated Press.
Though student enrollment in California public schools had been declining for several years, this past year’s plunge is a much larger decrease for California public schools than in previous years. The Los Angeles Times, reported that it’s the largest drop for public school enrollment in the Golden State in two decades.
An analysis by the nonprofit organization EdSource, which focuses on California education, looked at California public school enrollment data since the 1999-2000 academic year. The nonprofit found that the last largest drop was between the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 academic year. Enrollment declined to 6,192,121 in 2009-2010 from 6,252,029 in 2008-2009 – a drop of 59,908.
The largest declines in enrollment by grade in the state occurred in kindergarten and sixth grade. The Los Angeles Times reported that the decline in kindergarten enrollment was over 60,000.
California isn’t the only state reporting a drop in enrollment as the pandemic continues. Arizona enrollment data also shows a decline by 38,000 students from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021, as reported by a local ABC News station. KCCI, a news station in Des Moines, Iowa, reported that public school enrollment in Iowa dropped by almost 6,000 students from the year before. KCCI added that this is the first decline in enrollment for the state in a decade.
Getting a top financial job with one of Wall Street’s big firms is something the well-off value immensely in China.
Talent consultant firms in the country have been recruiting finance professionals to assist rich students secure internships and full-time jobs with Wall Street titans, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
They price these services at $12,000 or more to offer an alternate route for students to get hired by companies like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, McKinsey, Citadel, or Citic Securities, the report said.
Students are guided by bankers who help them with an entire plan of action ranging from networking, to drafting cover letters, and obtaining in-house referrals. They’ve managed to land coveted jobs in global financial hubs from Shanghai to New York.
The companies either denied association with these consulting firms, or declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg.
A Shanghai-based agency called Wall Street Tequila is said to charge the highest fees. On its official WeChat account, the firm claims it has helped over 3,000 students secure high paid offers of 1 million yuan ($152,680) in the last seven years, Bloomberg reported.
Wall Street Tequila didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
It isn’t uncommon for bankers in China to tie up with talent agents, take up mentorship roles, and charge fees for internal referrals. But it leads to concern that these opportunities aren’t equally available to all socioeconomic classes.
Sean Wang, a senior banker and author, told Bloomberg: “If you pay to have someone else to write your cover letter, or get a first-round interview, is it fair to those job seekers who don’t have, or can’t afford, such packages?”
One consultant at Accenture told Bloomberg they were approached multiple times by agents, seeking payment in return for an internship referral.
The job market has become more competitive, as both global and regional banks are boosting hiring efforts to expand wealth management in the world’s second-largest economy. Goldman Sachs, UBS, and Credit Suisse are among banks looking to bump up their workforces in China.
All Duke University undergraduate students living on the campus in residence halls or on-campus apartments were told late Saturday to remain in their residences for the next seven days following a COVID-19 outbreak at the school.
“Over the past several days, we have continued to see a steady rise in the number of undergraduate students testing positive for COVID-19, principally as a result of recent off-campus fraternity-related events,” the letter to students, singed by several university officials, read.
“In an effort to mitigate any additional spread of the virus effective immediately we are now directing all undergraduate students to stay-in-place until Sunday, March 21,” it continued.
The order applies to the approximately 6,000 students currently residing on campus, a Duke spokesperson told Insider.
According to officials, more than 180 students were recently required to isolate following a positive COVID-19 test, and 200 students were in quarantine following the university’s contact-tracing efforts.
According to the Raleigh News Observer, Duke officials had warned students earlier in the week that restrictions were possible due to fraternity rush parties that it said caused the current spike in cases.
“This is by far the largest one-week number of positive tests and quarantines since the start of the pandemic,” officials said in the Saturday letter.
Students living in on-campus apartments or dorms are allowed to leave their residences only “for essential activities related to food, health, or safety,” according to the letter. Students in groups no larger than three are allowed to leave their residences for outdoor activities that do “not increase the potential spread” of COVID-19.
The letter instructed the facility to switch to virtual learning beginning this week. It said the order did not apply to “graduate and professional students” because officials had seen “little increase in COVID transmission spread among this population.”
The move comes one year after universities and colleges across the US, including Duke, suspended in-person classes and sent students home as the virus began to spread across the US. More than 530,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported at US college campuses since the beginning of the pandemic, according to an analysis from The New York Times.
“This stay-in-place period is strongly recommended by our medical experts. The restriction of student movement-coupled with a renewed dedication to following social distancing, masking, symptom monitoring and other public health guidelines-gives us the best path toward curtailing further,” the letter to students read.
Officials warned students that repeated violation of the order could lead to “suspension or withdrawal from Duke.”
Where a child is born has enormous influence over their educational future.
Even within nations, there tends to be a yawning gap between urban and rural education outcomes. For instance, according to one 2015 standardized assessment, 15-year-olds studying in urban schools in 37 countries outperformed rural students by roughly the equivalent of one full year of schooling, even after controlling for students’ socioeconomic backgrounds.
Many of the solutions intended to narrow this urban-rural gap rely on technology – with a particular focus on tech tools that can help connect far-flung students to quality educators. But are these technologies really up to the challenge?
Most previous research on this question has focused on short-term outcomes, like the immediate effects on students’ test scores, notes Nicola Bianchi, assistant professor of strategy at the Kellogg School.
In a new study, however, Bianchi and coauthors Yi Lu, at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Hong Song, at Fudan University in Shanghai, consider much longer term impacts: how much school rural students completed and what they went on to earn once they joined the workforce.
The researchers focused on China, a country with a particularly pronounced chasm between the quality of urban and rural education systems. In 2004, as part of an effort to address the disparity, the Chinese government started a program to connect over 100 million rural students with highly qualified urban teachers via satellite. Because of the large number of students involved, the Chinese program is likely the world’s largest ever education technology intervention, the researchers note.
Then, using data from a massive survey conducted a decade later, the team was able to analyze the long-term effects of this reform on students’ educational and career trajectories.
They found that rural Chinese students who had access to classes delivered by top teachers appeared to benefit in multiple ways that persisted over time. Specifically, those who had been exposed in middle school to lectures recorded by high-quality urban teachers ultimately completed more education than their peers and earned significantly more once they started working.
“Technology can be a fantastic way to bring high-quality education by some of the best teachers in the country to rural areas without trying to convince teachers to relocate,” Bianchi said. “In other words, when it comes to increasing the quality of education in these underserved areas, technology can be the channel through which we achieve that.”
Tracking students touched by an educational reform
The average rural student in China has long lacked access to the same quality of education as his or her urban peers. In 2000, a few years before China’s ambitious rural education project began, only 14% of rural middle-school teachers held a bachelor’s degree – less than half of the percentage among their urban counterparts. Rural schools also had larger class sizes than urban ones and often lacked necessary teaching materials.
This appeared to affect students’ trajectory after middle school. Only 7% of rural Chinese middle-school students went on to enroll in high school; among urban students, high-school enrollment was over nine times higher.
To lessen this divide, the Chinese Ministry of Education in 2004 embarked on a four-year project to install satellite dishes, computer rooms, and other multimedia equipment in the country’s rural schools. It also sought the highest-credentialed teachers in the country to record lectures that rural students could access via the internet and DVDs. (Most of those teachers came from selective urban elementary and middle schools.)
The researchers estimate that the average rural student watched roughly seven 45-minute lectures per week. Importantly, the students watched the lectures not from their own homes, but in school classrooms, under the supervision of local teachers.
To analyze the long-term impacts of these technological interventions, the researchers turned to the 2014 China Family Panel Studies, a representative survey of Chinese communities, families, and individuals conducted by Peking University. Of particular interest to Bianchi and his coauthors were respondents’ age, educational attainment, and earnings. Also, crucially, the survey asked respondents where they lived at age 12, which allowed the researchers to ascertain if their middle school benefitted from the new educational technology during their time there.
Shifting educational and employment futures
The researchers’ analysis revealed that the Chinese government’s ambitious program did discernibly benefit rural students – not only academically, but in the job market as well.
Rural students with access to the government’s computer-assisted learning program completed 0.85 years of additional schooling compared with those without access. And remarkably, nearly a decade after their time in middle school, these rural students also earned 59% more than peers in the same county not touched by the reform.
“What was interesting was that it was not just an earnings increase, but a difference in type of occupations,” Bianchi said. “The exposure to the education technology allowed them to escape the most common job in very rural parts of China, which is working in agriculture. They were moving away from these jobs and towards jobs that were more focused on cognitive skills.”
Bianchi and his coauthors conclude that exposure to the program accounted for a 21% reduction in the preexisting urban-rural education gap and a 78% reduction in the earnings gap.
The program also furnished rural schools with the ability to introduce computer science classes and the means for rural teachers to incorporate computers into their own lectures. Yet the researchers point to the recorded lectures by the highly credentialed teachers as the standout star in terms of their impact on the students. The other technologies, they write, “are not corroborated by data and anecdotal evidence” as discernibly benefiting students.
Narrowing a persistent regional divide
So the technology initiative had a significant, positive impact on the students. Does this translate to benefits for students around the globe who are using technology to learn remotely during COVID-19? Bianchi said it likely doesn’t.
It’s important to remember, he said, that the Chinese reform placed students in a learning context quite different from the living rooms and kitchen tables that most virtual students are dealing with today.
“When we generally talk about remote learning, we think about students by themselves at home, sometimes without any type of supervision, taking or following a class,” he said. “The Chinese example was very different because the students were in class and they were under the direct supervision of the local teachers.”
Bianchi notes that he expects a wide variety of sectors to embrace a remote format even after the pandemic is over – but he doesn’t expect education to be one of them. There are simply too many clear benefits of in-person learning.
“But that doesn’t mean technology can’t help rural areas get access to something that they wouldn’t have, even in person,” he said.
Educators use Flipgrid to create message boards where students video record their answers instead of typing them out for more interactive and engaging learning.
This free, website-based platform works by letting teachers create tiled “grids.”
Teachers pose discussion questions and students’ video replies appear in a grid display below. Flipgrid is useful for teachers who want to emulate in-person conversations from a distance, but also without the pressure of a live classroom.
If you’re a teacher or student who has posted a video to Flipgrid, but would like to re-do it, deleting a video question or response is easy.
How to delete a Flipgrid video if you’re an educator
Teachers can create a free Flipgrid account here. Once you’ve created an account and posted your first video, you’ll be able to hide or delete it. You can also delete responses from your students if they reach out for help.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez late Friday shot back at President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers, accusing them of being so out of touch with young American workers that they remember when Hershey bars were “5¢ at the general store.”
The congresswoman’s posts were the latest in a back-and-forth with conservatives about how difficult it’s become for young Americans to pay for college while minimum wages remain stagnant.
The price of higher education has exploded in the last two decades, while wages haven’t kept pace, she said.
“Pretty sad how much people have been conditioned to believe that not getting crushed by costs of healthcare, housing, education, and low wages is either ‘radical left politics’ or ‘nice but unrealistic,'” wrote Ocasio-Cortez.
Earlier in the week, some conservatives tweeted that they’d worked nights and weekends to pay their way through school. Some argued that because they’d managed to pay their own way, today’s students should be able to do so, too.
Ocasio-Cortez shot back, saying it’s not that students aren’t working hard enough, but rather that lawmakers haven’t taken the right steps to help them. The federal minimum wage since 2009 has been $7.25 per hour, although many states have higher minimums.
“These Republicans who are defensively rage-tweeting “But you’re wrong! I worked my way to pay through college!!” don’t realize they sound like folks who speak of the days when Hershey bars were 5¢ at the general store,” the congresswoman said on Twitter.
Ocasio-Cortez started the conversation on Thursday, when she said conservative lawmakers didn’t know what it was like to scrape by at a blue-collar job, as she did when she was a server and bartender.
She said: “Republicans like to make fun of the fact that I used to be a waitress, but we all know if they ever had to do a double they’d be the ones found crying in the walk-in fridge halfway through their first shift bc someone yelled at them for bringing seltzer when they wanted sparkling.”